Produce

Asparagus

When to plant…

Asparagus can take years to establish, but when it does you will produce an abundant crop of spears spring after spring for the next 20-30 years. There are female and male asparagus plants and to keep your garden under control you only want to keep the male spears as baby asparagus plants compete for space and nutrients if the females come to seed.

In early spring, dig a trench about 12” deep and a foot wide. Plant asparagus crowns at 18” intervals in the bed with compost and fertilizer. Shape the compost and fertilizer in 6” mounds and set the asparagus crown on top and drape the roots down around the sides. The top of the mound should be 6” below the soil surface. Cover the roots with garden soil right up to the crown and water well. As shoots begin to appear, add more soil until the trench has been filled back up.

No weeds, no interplanting with other vegetables, and keep it well mulched and consistent soil moisture.

When to harvest…

You will want to harvest your spears when they are 5” – 7” tall before they begin to loosen, which is usually in April. Do not pull them out of the ground, but cut them or snap them just above the soil. The first year after plantings, harvest only a few spears from each plant for 2 weeks and then stop. You can then harvest 3 weeks the next year and 4-6 weeks the year after that. Pick too much, and your plants will not be able to develop the strong root system and energy reserves needed for the future.

Once the bed yields only skinny spears let them grow to their full potential to establish healthier fronds for next year’s harvest.

How to select and store…

Asparagus can be green, white or purple. Stalks should be rounded and firm, with thin stems and closed tips. The tips should be deeply colored and ends that are still moist. Store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel or upright in a shallow bowl with an inch of water. Use within a day or two after purchasing.

How to preserve it…

Blanch and Freeze for up to 6 months or pickle them with mustard seed and seal for up to 1 year!

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William Sonoma

 

Fun tip!

Gently bend the stalk from both ends and it will naturally break where the tough meets terrific.

Recommended Recipes…

Resources:

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